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Maple Syrup Festival

The trees are tapped at Touch of Nature Center ahead of the annual maple syrup festival in 2017.

A little tap, a little sap, cook it and voila — homemade maple syrup!

You can experience the process of turning fresh maple sap into a tasty treat and enjoy the sweet treat atop pancakes during a festival filled with activities indoors and out Feb. 23 and 24 at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Touch of Nature Environmental Center. That and much more are happening at the popular annual Maple Syrup Festival and Pancake Breakfast.

Breakfast is served from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and the menu features homemade pancakes and maple syrup made from sugar maple sap harvested at Touch of Nature.

Get tickets at ton.siu.edu for $12 each for ages 13 and older or $6 for children ages 6 to 12. Kids 5 and younger eat free.

Tickets will also be available at the door for $15 for ages 13 and older or $8 for children ages 6 to 12.

While tickets are required to enjoy the breakfast, the rest of the festival is free and open to all. The festivities take place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day at Touch of Nature Environmental Center, located about eight miles south of Carbondale on Giant City Road.

Enjoy maple syrup making demonstrations, test your rock-climbing skills on the climbing wall and participate in interpretive hikes around the center, which is set on 3,200-acre plot adjacent to the Shawnee National Forest. Children can join in assorted hands-on outdoor environmental educational activities throughout the day.

Those attending will want to check out the blacksmith and lumberjack demonstrations and the numerous vendors and artisans who will be on site. Displays will showcase natural woven baskets, beekeeping, alpaca yarn, silk embroidery, goat’s milk products, handmade textiles and jewelry, natural soaps and lotions, wood and pottery crafts and handmade ropes.

American Indian author/historian George Godfrey will be on hand and visitors can also watch as hides are tanned.

For more information about the festival, or to get tickets for the pancake breakfast, visit ton.siu.edu or call 618-453-1121 or email tonec@siu.edu.

— Christi Mathis, SIU Media Services

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